Following a pair of deadly mass shootings over the weekend, including one at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, a Walmart e-commerce category specialist, Thomas Marshall, posted two memos widely within the company, urging mass action by employees to pressure management to cease the sale of firearms. Now, Marshall claims he and one of his colleagues are unable to access their internal accounts.
“Walmart has completely deactivated our access and accounts. We have been shut out of all systems, essentially ending our jobs without yet firing us,” Marshall wrote to Gizmodo a little after Tuesday 5pm ET local time (Wednesday 7am AEST). “We will be seeking legal counsel in this matter.”
A Walmart spokesperson confirmed to Gizmodo that Marshall’s access to company channels had been suspended, saying that “company channels are provided to help associates do their work, and this associate indicated that he was not planning to work today. When he returns to work, he will regain access to these channels, pending a review of the circumstances.”
Marshall shared images that showed his internal Walmart account and his access to Walmart’s Slack instance had both been revoked. The “we” in his initial email refers to himself and another employee in Walmart’s e-commerce division who was involved in disseminating the letter. “Both her and I were part of the initial group that formed yesterday,” Marshall explained.
The other employee was one of the people to publicly sign the associated petition asking Walmart execs to cease the sale of firearms following massacres carried out by gunmen in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, on Saturday. Twenty-two people were killed in El Paso, and the shooting in Dayton left nine people dead.
The petition reads, in part:
Walmart is a company that has always placed its associates and customers first; we have recently made great strides toward fostering a safe, inclusive, and progressive community. Last year, Walmart raised the minimum age to buy a firearm or ammunition from 18 to 21. In 2015, Walmart removed products resembling assault-style rifles from its inventory. Nonetheless, Walmart remains one of the largest retailers of firearms in the United States, and there is a direct correlation between the number/availability of guns and the amount of mass shootings per capita.
Yes, we have made great strides already, but now we must organise to shape this company into a place that we can all be proud of. As associates, we can and must leverage our power and ability to change our company for the better.
Walmart said on Monday that it has no plans to limit the sale of firearms or ammunition in the wake of this weekend’s shootings.
“There’s not been any directive to any stores around the country to change any policy,” a Walmart spokesperson told Bloomberg. “We’re focused on supporting our associates, customers and the entire El Paso community.”
In addition to working for Walmart, Marshall is a writer and author of No More Dead Kids, a young adult novel centered around school shootings. Earlier today, Gizmodo spoke with a Walmart representative and asked, among other questions, if the company intended to take any retaliatory action against workers who participated in today’s sick-out. The spokesperson declined to answer at that time.